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Shweta’s Invincible Determination: No Toilet, No School

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Noted Bollywood actors Amitabh Bachchan and Vidya Balan feature in ads, to spread awareness on sanitation by promoting the construction and use of toilets. Akshay Kumar too, through his movie “Toilet: Ek Prem Katha”, supported the construction of toilets at home. Similarly, taking charge of her family’s health, a girl from Yavatmal refused to go to school, till her father constructs a toilet in their home.

Generally, children demand chocolates or toys from their parents, but Shweta Rangari, a small child, studying in class 4 of ZP school in Yavatmal district’s Indrathana village, is unique.

She is not just a school going child. She is determined, wanted a change and ensured that she made the change start with herself.

As a part of the Swachh Bharat Mission, Mr Raju Kendre, an officer in charge under the CM fellowship, screened the movie “Toilet Ek Prem Katha” in six villages and distributed 250 copies of a book named “Book On Hygienic Habits.”

Mr Raju Kendre screening the movie ‘Toilet: Ek Prem Katha”

The last page of the book has a calendar with a questionnaire to be filled in daily for a month by primary school students.

Shweta’s class too started filling the columns daily. Shweta marked every column, except the first column which said ‘using toilet’ that remained blank. Even in the drawing competition held, she was asked to draw a toilet’s picture which is located inside or outside the house. But how could she draw? Shweta had never seen a toilet, as there was no toilet in her house.

Students wrote letters to their parents urging them to build toilets

When Shweta didn’t turn up at school, her teachers inquired about her whereabouts. It was then that she told every one of her decision and said:“Unless and until there is a toilet constructed in the house, I will not go to school.”

After Shweta’s warning, within a week, her father constructed a toilet. Pandit Rangari, Shweta’s father, said, “I asked her why she is not going to school. To which she replied that she wouldn’t go to school till I constructed a toilet. And so I had to!”

Her family consists of her parents and two siblings. Her father works as a daily labourer, but he could not deny or crush his daughter’s wish. In spite of their poor financial conditions, her father started the construction of the toilet.

“I tried to urge people to build toilets but they were not enthusiastic about the work. I decided to rope in school kids as masons, and as a result, Shweta devoted herself to the cause and asked her father to construct a toilet. Now, the other school children are demanding to construct a toilet at their homes too. I hope Shweta’s move will push people on in the mission to create an open-defecation free India,” added Mr Kendre.

Shweta with her newly built toilet.  Her determination turned her from ordinary to revolutionary and created a breakthrough in the history of the village.

Now the community targets building 150 toilets in the next two months.

Such innovative experiments in the laboratory of the “Swachh Bharat Mission” arrives as a radiant discovery of the power of positive resistance, which later evolves into a revolutionary weapon of change.

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  1. never_shut_down

    Great Article…

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
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